By Roger Sands
When an entire healthcare facility depends on reliable wireless networks, the WiFi is more than a perk of the twenty-first century: it’s a mission-critical foundation for patient health, care, and recovery.
Optimizing networks and maintaining reliable WiFi becomes crucial for everything from safely monitoring patients’ vitals in real-time, to checking-in patients and providing easy bill pay; not to mention any building WiFi that could support anything from security cameras to printers. To best support these devices and systems, healthcare IT professionals need historical analytics.
Why historical analytics?
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The real-time health of a network is incredibly important, but it’s equally as important to be aware of trends over time in areas like client distribution, airtime and client utilization, and infrastructure health and performance. Tracking these trends gives IT professionals the insight that they need into long-term network changes that might not be readily apparent with day-to-day analytics. Even if network tests reveal no red flags, have no doubt that the network is changing. Tracking these changes over time supports future optimization.
Historical analytics can provide insights such as:
- Which infrastructure devices are trending slower performance and will need to be upgraded or reconfigured - as well as which devices do not need to be upgraded
- How airtime utilization has changed in different areas of the facility - for example, is there new interference coming from recently installed equipment? Remember that interference can come from WiFi and non-WiFi sources
- How client devices are using the network - as an example, has an increase in telemedicine visits impacted the network because of the increased video streaming?
- Which areas of the facility have the highest density of devices - this is especially useful information to have if a facility is planning to upgrade to WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and needs to know which floors or offices will benefit most from the upgrade
- If a recent upgrade was made, is it affecting the network in all the desired ways? What was network performance like before and after the upgrade?
Facilities that track health and performance trends over time are better equipped when it’s time for budget and capacity planning because they have the answers to these questions and more. Administrators can make insightful assumptions about future needs based on past analytics, and improve patient care.